A common medical emergency, more than 795,000 people experience a stroke each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The chronic disease occurs when a certain area of the brain suddenly loses essential blood supply. A major killer nationwide, strokes engender around 1 in 20 American deaths.
Men have historically experienced a higher risk of stroke than women. However, a new study published in the journal Neurology, has revealed that stroke risk is becoming lower in men, but staying relatively stable in women.
A closer look at the stroke study
The researchers conducted the 17-year study - 1993 to 2010 - in a particular geographic region - data was collected from the states of Ohio and Kentucky, with five counties targeted. They examined stroke rates during four set periods of time. Some1.3 million participants were surveyed and a total of 7,710 strokes were observed.
Study authors took stoke data from the first observational period in 1993-1994 and compared it with the results taken during 2010. They found that during the 1993-94 study window, male participants had a stroke risk of around 263 per 100,000 people. In 2010, however, the results were markedly improved, with the risk dropping to 192 per 100,000. The same positive findings did not pertain to women, however. The stroke risk for female participants during both periods was relatively comparable - it was 217 in 1993-94 and 198 per 100,000 in 2010.
Researchers were unable to provide any definitive insight into why stroke risk hasn't really changed for women but decreased in men. Study author and Brown University professor Dr. Tracy E. Madsen offered some theories for the gender disparity.
"Maybe we're not controlling risk factors to the same extent in women. Or maybe there's a biological difference in the way these risk factors cause strokes in men versus women," she told the New York Times.
Ischemic stroke most common
It should be noted that most of the data involves ischemic stroke, which is by far the most common kind, accounting for roughly 87 percent of cases in the U.S., according to data from the CDC. This kind of stroke is a consequence of impaired blood flow to the brain, which is caused by blocked or narrowed arteries.